Cro Cop In Talks With UFC For 2009 Return?

Mirko Cro Cop has been dropping several hints in recent interviews in the Croatian press that he is planning a major move in 2009.

These rumors first appeared when Mirko made a blog post on MMA ID stating that his NYE fight would mark a new chapter in his career: "This fight I'll end one chapter and start another. I'll post more information about my plans after the show. And no, I'm not retiring, thanks for asking!"

When asked about his plans for 2009 at Zagreb airport earlier today he remained vague: “I don’t know. I’ll have to wait and see. I cant say anything right now. I’m just focused on this fight and we’ll see what happens after that.”

Now according to this post Dana White appeared on the Best Damn Sports show and stated that Cro Cop could return to the UFC 2009. (Note: I haven't seen the show and hence don't know how accurate this guys recollection is. If anyone can confirm this quote please let me know)
"We haven't really discussed that yet. We have a lot of shit we are doing, and that event isn't on our heads. We could see the return of Cro Cop on the show, who knows. If he wins, he will definitely be welcomed back into the UFC."
It looks like his move very much depends on his fight with Hong Man Choi. If the Croatian returns to winning form a return to the UFC looks possible. What makes this rumor even more plausible is the fact that Cro Cop still trains in a cage rather than a ring. This could mean two things. One he is too cheap to remove the cage and install another ring or B he still plans to return to the UFC as he promised when he left the organization one year ago. Bringing Cro Cop back at this time would make a lot of sense considering the UFC's expansion into mainland Europe.

Mirko Cro Cop Leaves For Japan Confident of Victory

Mirko Cro Cop met with the Croatian press one final time at Zagreb airport before leaving for Japan. This is an translation of a Nova TV report via free fight videos.

Mirko Cro Cop has left for Japan with his NYE bout with Korean giant Hong Man Choi less than three days away.

In preparation for the 2.18 meter tall and 160 kg K1 star Mirko has been sparing with former Croatian basketball star Franjo Arapovic.

We met Mirko at Zagreb airport for his final interview before leaving for Japan.

Cro Cop Doesn’t Plan To Exchange Strikes With Choi

“Its just another fight. I have to follow my game plan. I cant exchange with a man that’s has such big reach and weight advantage over me. I’ll be cautious.” explained Cro Cop.

When asked of what he thought about his opponent “It’s a dangerous fight. Any one that size is dangerous. ”

When asked about his plans for 2009 Cro Cop replied;

“I don’t know. I’ll have to wait and see. I cant say anything right now. I’m just focused on this fight and we’ll see what happens after that.”

His will be Cro Cop first fight since the no-contest with Overeem in September. His last victory a first round TKO over Tatsuya Mizuno at Dream 1. You’ll be able to catch Cro Cop’s new years eve match live on Nova TV staring at 12.00 noon.

Robert's UFC 92 Predictions

Here we go UFC 92 is finally here. Its a Pride FC inspired card with 3 former stars of the defunct organization co-headlining the event. UFC 92 is also a tribute to the success of the Ultimate Fighter reality TV show with season one and season two winners battling it out for the light heavyweight belt. Its by far the deepest card the UFC has put together this year. Before we start here are the latest UFC 92 lines.

Betting Lines from Bookmaker

Forrest Griffin -125 vs. Rashad Evans +105

Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira -325 vs. Frank Mir +250

Quinton Jackson +110 vs. Wanderlei Silva -115

Dean Lister +275 vs. Yushin Okami -350

Cheick Kongo -350 vs. Mustapha Al-Turk +275

Brad Blackburn +185 vs. Ryo Chonan -225

CB Dollaway -150 vs. Mike Massenzio +120

Matt Hamill -500 vs. Reese Andy +300

Dan Evensen +175 vs. Pat Barry -215

Antoni Hardonk -500 vs. Mike Wessel +300

A reminder for those looking to bet this stacked card. Sign up with the guys at my recommended MMA and UFC sportsbook. They have full lines up for UFC 92. If you're in Vegas the Venetian Resort casino also has full odds up. Now on to my complete picks and predictions.

Forrest Griffin vs. Rashad Evans

Griffin has been given a lot of credit for his wins over Rampage Jackson and Shogun Rua. Perhaps a little to much credit. Even with those wins I don’t think Griffin is in the same league as the two aforementioned fighters. I don’t get me wrong Griffin is a great fighter whoever he has overachieved in the UFC given his skill and talent level. It wasn’t too long ago that Griffin lost via quick knock out to fellow TUF alumni Keith Jardine. Last year he struggled to finish Hector Ramirez in an uninspiring battle in Belfast, Northern Ireland. It was on back of that victory that the TUF 1 winner received a shot against the then number one light heavyweight fighter in the world Mauricio Shogun Rua. The rest as they is MMA history.

Rashad Evans received a totally different reception from both the UFC and MMA community to that of Forrest Griffin. His style was and for the most part still is pretty one dimensional. On top of it all he was accused of poor sportsman ship when at times he showboated. Non the less he remained unbeaten throughout the first two years of his UFC career without raising a lot of fan fare. Though the odds makers see it as an extremely close bout I cant envision anything other than an easy decision victory for Rashad. The bout is almost guaranteed to go the distance. I predict a five round domination by Evans.

Quinton Rampage Jackson vs. Wanderlei Silva

This is bout I’m looking forward to the post. These guys know each others game inside and out. Both poses knockout power while at the same time are very proficient on the ground.

Rampage is coming of a tumultuous time in his career and personal life. Not only did he loose the UFC belt, he came close to loosing his life and was lucky not to end up serving time for his hit and run incident. He makes his UFC return against arch nemesis Wanderlei Silva.

Silva holds a tremendous physiologically over the former UFC champion. Silva ground game is sold however mainly limited to stalling and avoiding damage when on the bottom. He still holds the slight advantage on his feet however Rampage has improved leaps and bounds in that department. Still if Silva can keep it on the feet, he should be good enough to ride out a close decision.

Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Frank Mir

In the co-main event current interim heavyweight champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira "Big Nog" will face comeback kid and former UFC champion Frank Mir. Both fighters have are coming off vital victories and are somewhat unlucky not to receive a title shot against Couture. Non the less the winner will face current champion Brock Lesnar.

Its strength vs. strength in his title shot eliminator. Both men poses some of the best BJJ in MMA. The general consensus is that Big Nog has the slight advantage on the ground. There is no doubt that the former Pride star has a clear advantage standing and clear advantage in conditioning. There are not many ways Mir can win this fight. Nog is deserving favorite and should control proceedings from start to finish. A round three TKO is my prediction.

While this may be a somewhat interesting match-up for the heavyweight division for me the main event at Affliction featuring Fedor vs. Arlovski is still the bigger match-up.

K1 Fields Dynamite 2008 betting odds released

Less than a week before event the good folks at have released their Fields Dynamite 2008 odds. Their are some surprising lines:

Mirko Filipovic 1.35
Hong Man Choi 2.90

Hideo Tokoro 1.65
Daisuke Nakamura 2.00

Jerome Lebanner 1.45
Mark Hunt 2.50

Joachim Hansen 1.70
J.Z. Calvancanti 1.95

Kazushi Sakuraba 1.50
Kiyoshi Tamura 2.35

Semmy Schilt 1.12
Mighty Mo 5.50

Shinya Aoki 1.80
Eddie Alvarez 1.80

Cro Cop is a huge favorite going into his bout with Hong Man Choi. That may take a lot of people by surprise however Choi hasn't been at his best for either and it is a MMA match after all. The big surprise for me is that Le Banner is such big favourite over Mark Hunt. I would have thought that the odds would have favoured the New Zealander would does have a pretty good ground game and who once came close to submitting Fedor. Odds curtesy of Bet-at-home.

Cro Cop Spars With Basketball Star In Preparation For Choi

This is a exclusive translation from Croatian news site Sportal (Check out their gallery of Mirko Cro Cop's new training partner)

The two former MP’s spar inside Mirko Cro Cop’s basement octagon. Franjo Arapovic is the perfect sparing partner for Cro Cop as he prepares to battle Hong Man Choi. Arapovic is a former Croatian basketball star winning silver medals at both the 1992 and 1988 Olympics with Croatia and Yugoslavia.

“Franjo is the tallest man I know. Only three centimeters shorter and ten kilo grams lighter than my opponent. I‘m able to simulate Choi’s height and feel his weight” said Cro Cop.

Arapovic is 215 cm tall and weighs approximately 140 kg with Hong Man Chois weight fluctuating between 150 and 160 kg.

Cro Cop goes for an arm bar.

Reaching Choi's head wont be a problem according to Arapovic.

Randy Couture predictions for UFC 92

Randy Couture has an uncanny ability to predict the outcome of UFC events. For years he has displayed his acumen in the commentary booth picking the most unlikely upsets including picking Gonzaga over Cro Cop, Rampage Jackson over Liddell and Forrest Griffin over Shogun Rua. His picks for UFC 92 are included in this video interview.

Badr Hari vs Alistair Overeem at Dynamite

Its official K1 superstar Badr Hari will face Alistair Overeem at this months Fields Dynamite 2008. The two will fight under K1 rules however a rematch under MMA rules is confirmed for 2009. The news was released by Overeem himself at his official website.
Next Victim: BADR HARI!
The discussion was who would fight under whos rules first and Alistair stepped up first! Alistair will fight Badr Hari at K1 Dynamite 31 December under K1 rules! Since Badr Hari challenged Alistair he sees no other option than cause another demolition and knock Badr Hari out! Both fighters agreed to fight in MMA rules early 2009!
Sergei Kharitonov was Overeem's initial opponent for the event but the Russian has been pulled from the card after an illness.

It was doubtful if Badr Hari would get to fight at Dynamite but FEG opted not to suspend the Dutchmen choosing to instead fine and strip him of his K1 title.

Mirko Cro Cop vs Hong Man Choi Fight Video

In this latest interview with Croatian news site Dnevnik, Cro Cop explains why he chose to fight Hong Man Choi and what challenges the Korean giant poses for him. Translation via Free Fight Videos.

Cro Cop: “He is dangerous despite being knew to MMA”
The whole world wanted and expected to see Cro Cop fight Alistair Overeem at Fields Dynamite however he is being presented with an entirely different challenge this NYE. Cro Cop will fight giant Hong Man Choi, a man still very new to MMA. His hight is what has made him a dangerous opponent in the ring.

Mirko Cro Cop vs Hong Man Choi on Nova TV

Cro Cop is yet to face Choi in MMA or K1. The Korean is 2.18 meter tall and weighs an indediable 160 kilos. Those numbers exceed even that of Russian boxing champion Nikolaj Valujev.

“Bob Sapp is little heavier than Choi but never the less much shorter. It was the organizations wish that I fight him and I take my orders from them”, said Mirko.

After a successful career in the Korea's national sport, a combination of Sumo and Wrestling, Choi made the transition to K1. He amassed a record of 17 fights, 12 victories and only 5 loses. He holds victories over the likes of Semmy Schilt, the only person ever to win three straight K1 World GP titles.

“A man his size is very dangerous even without MMA experience. He is skilled, relatively mobile for his height and very strong.” explained the Croatian fighter.

Choi’s record in MMA stands at 1 and 1. His loss coming the world top ranked heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko exactly one year ago.

“He displayed his incredible strength in the Fedor fight. When Fedor got a hold of his arm he was twice able to simply shrug him off. He had him in some difficult positions.”

Cro Cop holds only one victory in his last four matches. Hong Man Choi is an is a must win opponent for him. Should he be successful he’ll need to recover from his numerous injuries and bring back the form he displayed in 2006 for the new year.

Semmy Schilt back to MMA at Fields Dynamite

Three time K1 World GP champion Semmy Schilt says that he is more than likely to fight under MMA rules at this months Fields Dynamite in this video interview . The K1 star was also asked about his opinion on this years World GP especially the events that unfolded at the final. He explains that he is not retiring from K1compettion but that he is looking for challenges outside K1 too. An opponent has not been announced for his return to MMA. Candidates include Croatian striker Mirko Cro Cop and a rematch with well rounded Russian striker Sergei Kharitonov.

Schilt is a MMA veteran. He has a total of 40 MMA bouts under his belt and has faced some of the biggest stars from both the UFC and Pride. He faced the likes of Fedor Emelianenko, Antonio Nogueira and Josh Barnett. He holds victories over Gan McGee and Guy Mezger. His UFC record stand at 1-1.

Fields Dynamite Speculation: Badr Hari, Cro Cop & Overeem

With only three weeks left and several big name MMA and K1 stars set-to participate there are many rumors circulating as to who will face who at Fields Dynamite 2008. The man everyone is talking about this week is Badr Hari. Croatian news portal Vecernji is reporting that the star is interested in fighting Cro Cop and that FEG have offered the match to him.
“Immediately after K1 Word GP Final FEG had offered Hari a fight with Cro Cop. The Moroccan feels embarrassed about his performance during the final and says he lost his mind during the fight. Negotiations have began for a return at NYE and his chance for redemption.”
According to the article FEG had counted on Le Banner facing Cro Cop however his elbow injury in the quarter final makes him an unlikely participant at Dynamite.

There is still no official word from FEG as to what Hari‘s punishment will be. It’s a difficult predicament for the organization who on the one hand have the integrity of the sport to protect while on the other could cash in on the situation in the upcoming weeks and months.

Not surprisingly Bas Boon and Golden Glory have made it clear that they would love for Overeem to face Badr Hari. In a recent blog post on the official Golden Glory website Boon made his feelings clear:
“Its funny that on several MMA forums we could read how Badr Hari challenged Alistair Overeem (few months ago) after Alistiar's fight with Mirko Crop Cop in Dreams, Hari took the microphone and told all MMA fans that he thought MMA was gay and a bunch of huggers and that K-1 was the real sport, well I guess things have changed in the last few months for Badr Hari, if FEG does not suspend Hari, it would be nice to see Alistair vs Badr Hari (who apparently seems to have changed his opinion over MMA fighting) at the Dynamite show this year.”
For better or worse Badr Hari has become a huge commodity for K1. He has that Mike Tyson aura around him now that will attract crowds and TV audiences for years to come. Yes he does deserve to be punished for his actions however I’m sure that combat sports fans around to world would love to see him participate at Fields Dynamite.

De La Hoya vs. Pacquiao Prediction

Its one of the most interesting match-ups in years "The Golden Boy" Oscar De La Hoya meets Manny "Pac-Man" Pacquiao this Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. A belt may not be on the line non the less millions PPV viewers across the globe will be watching as the two combatants battle it out for pride, glory and off course a hole heap of cash. Tickets were sold out within 2 hours. An incredible 17 million dollar gate is already in the coffers (the second largest gate in history) and thanks to a nationwide promotional tour PPV numbers should real record levels. This truly is one of the fights of the decade and one of epic sporting events of the year.

For what’s it worth here is my Oscar De La Hoya vs Manny Pacquiao Prediction.

Two all time greats will meet this Saturday. Its going to be a historic occasion and hence the pressure will be exceptionally high for both men. Often these occasions fail to deliver however these two fighters at the top game rarely disappoint. I expect a battle for the ages.

Pacquiao is the Vegas underdog despite being reconsigned by many as the best pound for pound boxer in the world. The 29 year old Filipino holds a 47-3-2 record. He is coming of two spectacular victories in 2008. He is moving up two weight classes to compete at the 147-pound welterweight limit. An incredible jump in weight rarely seen in modern boxing. As everyone has speculated it’s the key to fight and it’s the reason why this fight is so hard to pick. There is pretty strict rule I follow when in Vegas, never bet on the guy moving up in weight. Because nine of ten times he is the overrated one. And I suspect that may be the case here. Even though I have all the respect in the world for Pac-man his status amongst boxing die hards has become unrealistic.

Conditioning is by far the biggest concern for De La Hoya. His last two fights in many peoples eyes exposed a severe training problems. Its my biggest concern with picking De La Hoya. I cant see him being knocked out or out boxed however I can see him fading in the latter rounds as he limps to a decision. Non the less I expect a close decision to favour the veteran.

Free Fight Card Live From Costa Rica

It’s a huge weekend of boxing fans as we are treated to some very entertaining match-ups this Friday and Saturday night. Not only do we have the massive showdown between Oscar De La Hoya and Manny Pacquiao to look forward to but we also have an amazing free fight card from Costa Rica. This is a live boxing and MMA card from sunny Costa Rica is brought to you by the guys at CR Fights.

Free Boxing Card

All the fights will broadcast live streamed free and direct at the Boxing Channel. The fights start 9pm eastern today so don’t forget to tune in as some the best up and coming talent from both MMA and boxing take the stage.

Dana White: Machida is Anderson's Successor

It may well be Lyoto Machida who will be the next fighter to hold the pound for pound king tag reveals Dana White in an recent interview with Brazilian MMA TV show Sensei SporTV.

Free Fight Videos translates Dana White’s exclusive interview with Sensei SporTV via Tatame Brazil.

Dana White: Machida is Anderson's Successor

After the stunning revelation on Sensei SporTV from Anderson Silva that he could retire soon and following an exclusive interview with UFC heavyweight champion Rodrigo "Minotauro", Sensei SporTV has its biggest guest yet.

Reporter Fernando Kallas showed no signs of intimidation when he met the most powerful promoter in MMA today. There were no questions left unanswered. On Saturday 06 December Dana White once again proclaims Anderson Silva to be the best pound for pound fighter in the world. No matter what combat sport or division. He isn’t surprised with the possible retirement of Silva after all “Anderson Silva is rich! I’d also retire if I was him”, said Dana in jest. Though he doesn’t actually believe Anderson will retire any time soon . If it does happen, the president believes Lyoto Machida will become the 'The Spiders“ successor.

"Machida has everything to be the next best pound for pound top fighter in MMA" said White.

In the exclusive interview Dana White talks about a possible UFC event in Brazil and gives us some clues on the mega card at Ultimate 100. He also address the possibility of having Fedor inside the Octagon and explains how he transformed the sport and its image in popular culture. In tenth episode of Sensei SporTV watch Dana White this Saturday following the Sportv News.